Monday, November 28, 2016

Watts returns to W.Va. as superintendent of New River Gorge National River

Watts named superintendent
The former chief of interpretation and education for national parks in southern West Virginia, Lizzie Watts has been named superintendent of New River Gorge National River, the Gauley River National Recreation Area, and the Bluestone National Scenic River, according to Mile Caldwell, director for the National Park Service's northeast region.

“The Northeast Region is pleased to welcome Lizzie back,” said Caldwell. “Her vast expertise and knowledge in leadership, park management, and community development is an asset to the National Park Service.”

Watts, a 25-year veteran of the park service, served five regions in various disciplines throughout the country. She began her career at Blue Ridge Parkway as a park ranger, while attending North Carolina State University.

From Blue Ridge Parkway, she held various law enforcement positions at Olympic National Park, George Washington Parkway, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
Thursday, November 17, 2016

Hikers encouraged to hike to Long Point on Black Friday

New River Gorge Bridge from Long Point
Hiking proponents in southern West Virginia are encouraging area residents to eschew crowded stores on the afternoon after Thanksgiving Day and instead join in a group hike on the Long Point Trail, which leads to one of the best known scenic overlooks in New River Gorge National River.

The 3.2-mile hike to-and-from the rock outcrop at Long Point departs from the Long Point trailhead off Gatewood Road near Fayetteville at 10 a.m., according to a joint press release issued by the National Park Service and the regional activity initiative Active Southern West Virginia.

The easy-to-moderate trail leads to one of the best views of the gorge and the New River Gorge Bridge. Hiker should wear appropriate shoes and anticipate potentially wintry weather.

The distance hiked will count toward totals for the New River Gorge 100-Mile Challenge, a hiking initiative being promoted in conjunction with the of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, according to ranger Jodi French-Burr.

Photo courtesy
Friday, November 4, 2016

Alliance receives grant to study Fayette, Nicholas trail network

On the Cranberry River. Photo courtesy Mike Boyes.
The New River Gorge Trail Alliance has received a $140,000 planning grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to study the feasibility of a regionally-connected bike trail system in Fayette and Nicholas counties in south-central West Virginia.

Working in partnership with West Virginia Connecting Communities, the alliance will spend the next year planning a regional network of trails in the counties, according to alliance president Bill Wells.

“Our vision is to join together successful existing bike trails, such as the Tri-Rivers Trail, the Meadow River Trail, and the White Oak Trail, into a larger network of trails,” Wells said.

“By connecting the Monongahela National Forest to the New River Gorge National River, our region’s status will continue to grow as an East Coast adventure recreation destination.”
Thursday, November 3, 2016

Fayetteville, W.Va., growing as a popular winter-tourism destination

Fayetteville, W.Va., in Winter. Courtesy Tim Naylor.
Many communities that depend on warm-weather tourism suffer through winter, but one West Virginia town renowned as a destination for whitewater rafting is breaking out of that cycle.

Hiking, rock climbing and mountain biking have increased year-round in Fayetteville, benefiting a growing number of eclectic shops, restaurants, and cultural venues that are particularly attractive in winter.

According to Sally Kiner, executive director of the Fayetteville Convention and Visitor Bureau, the expansion appears to be the result of a discovery of the region as a full-spectrum outdoor-recreation destination.

"The Fayetteville area has long been known as a destination for high adventure, but visitors have found that it's far more than that, and that's a promising development," she said.

"One happy result is the growing popularity of Fayetteville as a winter destination. Winter is an ideal time of year to visit. The landscape is beautiful, our varied lodging is generally discounted, and its restaurants are somewhat less crowded -- you won't have to stand in long lines waiting to be seated."
Thursday, October 27, 2016

Friends seek donations to rebuild Turkey Spur stair and boardwalk

Stairs atop Turkey Spur before vandalism
A charitable organization established to support national park in southern West Virginia is asking for donations to help repair a vandalized observation area atop Turkey Spur Rock, an overlook perched high above the New River at Grandview.

Members of Friends of the New River Gorge National River are requesting that contributions be made to match a grant sought to replace the system of stairs and boardwalks, a cost estimated at $50,000, according to the organization's website.

The stair and boardwalk were built by the National Park Service in 2015 and replaced an earlier boardwalk that had been built to the top of the sandstone formation in the 1970s. The new structures were burned by a yet-to-be-identified arsonist in 2016.

The National Park Service does not have funds to replace the structures, which provided access to views of the New River more than 1,000 feet below. The spur has long been among the park's most popular tourist attractions, and a climb to the top has been a tradition for many park visitors.

Members are requesting that contributors donate by visiting the Friends website and selecting the donate button on the lower right of the page or by attending a fundraising event at the Outback Steakhouse in Beckley on November 15. Contributors will find more information on the event at the organization's website and on its Facebook page.
Friday, October 7, 2016

Kentucky Headhunters to debut songs from new album at Bridge Day concert

Volunteer hangs 2016 Bridge Jam poster.
Due to play one of West Virginia's last autumn festivals in Fayetteville on Bridge Day weekend (October 14-15), Richard Young of The Kentucky Headhunters says the Southern Rock band will reveal songs from their new album during the concert. More than 2,000 are expected to attend the second annual Bridge Jam music festival being held in conjunction with Bridge Day, which Young says he's excited to witness.

"It’s gonna be kind of exciting to see people jump off the bridge," the founding guitarist said of parachutists who leap from the landmark New River Gorge Bridge during the festival, which itself attracts more than 100,000 to the small West Virginia town.

The Kentucky Headhunters lead the lineup of bands scheduled to play Bridge Jam, which Young says is taking place at an optimal time for the band. "We write songs in the fall. It’s my favorite time of year," Young said, adding that the band will unveil new music, yet to be released, during the concert.

Friday, September 30, 2016

2016 Bridge Day concert expected to attract thousands

Kentucky Headhunters to headline Bridge Day 2016 concert
Organizers of the second annual Bridge Day concert in Fayetteville say they expect several thousand guests to attend the two-day line-up, thanks in part to inclusion of a big-name band -- The Kentucky Headhunters, pioneers of the Southern Rock genre.

Bill Wells, co-founder of the October 14-15 performance series, says response is exceeding what he and other proponents had expected from the fledgling event, now in its second year.

"Our numbers are far better than they had been at this time last year, which we think is partly a result of securing The Kentucky Headhunters, a band whose audience has a strong overlap with Bridge Day festival-goers in West Virginia," Wells said.

"However, we've accomplished much more in this second year in terms of attracting an audience -- adding camping, coordinating with local events, and building on the area's strength as an outdoor-recreation destination."

Toward those ends, Bridge Jam will feature performances on a full stage near the historic district in Fayetteville as well as a late night bonfire venue.

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